Canadian athleisure label Lululemon has transferred the local-centric, lab-style format of its first flagship in Vancouver (launched in 2009) to NoHo, New York. The site-specific 2,900 sq ft boutique is part store, part brand incubator – enabling its product design team to connect with fans on an unusually intimate level.
The store carries Lululemon collections designed for, and only available to, its New York clientele. These include bespoke collaborations with local designers and a minimalist, all-black 'commuter line' featuring items such as leggings, blazers and waterproof anoraks, inspired by Manhattanites' hectic lifestyles. All are limited to batches of approximately 50, with the most successful potentially filtering into the brand's main line.
At the back of the store, a sample-making area with functional sewing machines puts its designers fully on display (see also Revealing the Product Journey and Exploiting Insider Access for more on this tactic). Consumers are encouraged to share product feedback directly, fuelling the brand's manifesto of locally focused innovation.
The interior also takes its cues from New York, deploying a palette of raw concrete, brass and blackened steel, while an adjustable wooden shelving system can be raised or lowered to suit in-store activities (see also Flexible Store Formats).
For more on the value of experimental store concepts, see Beta Brandscapes. For more on athleisure – currently worth more than $270bn globally and predicted to grow 30%+ by 2020 (Morgan Stanley, 2015) – see Athleisure Engagement Strategies, Selfridges Body Studio Launch and our new Macro Trend The Business of Wellbeing, publishing on May 6.